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Bill Ayers vs. Bill Buckley: Deborah Solomon's Double Standards

Times "Q&A" reporter Deborah Solomon questioned conservative icon William F. Buckley in a more hostile fashion than she did Weatherman bomber Bill Ayers.

Every Sunday, reporter Deborah Solomon conducts a weekly Q&A with a newsmaker for the New York Times Magazine. ThisSunday it wasunrepentant domestic terrorist - and long-standing Obama associate - Bill Ayers, a man the Times did its best to render un-newsworthy during the presidential campaign.


Just as the Times did with its front-page inoculation "investigation" last October, Solomon also helped bailed out Ayers' reputation, taking a mildly negative tone in only two out of a total of 15 questions she put to him. Solomon began with political fluff:


In your new book, "Race Course: Against White Supremacy," you and your wife, Bernardine Dohrn, describe your long struggle against racism and social injustice. Do you think Obama's victory has put America on a new course?


These three questions were as hostile as Solomon got:


How did you feel when Obama publicly disowned you, describing you as a guy in his neighborhood who had committed "despicable acts" when he was 8 years old?


Right, the Weathermen, which you co-founded, did hurt the antiwar movement by adopting violent tactics and alienating the middle class.


Do you regret your involvement in setting off explosions in the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol?


Solomon concluded with two cheery queries:


How do you feel when you wake up?


You're weirdly cheerful for a former bomb-thrower.


Contrast the soft questioning of Ayers to the untrammeled hostility with which Solomon greeted the late conservative icon William Buckley, the founder of National Review. Buckley was grilled by Solomon for the July 11, 2004 edition of the Times. Of the 20 questions Solomon asked Buckley, almost half were negative in tone, including these:


You have made so many offensive comments over the years. Do you regret any of them?


It's not fair to blame the press. Some of your most inflammatory comments have been made in your essays and columns. In the 50's, you famously claimed that whites were culturally superior to African-Americans.


You seem indifferent to suffering. Have you ever suffered yourself?